BeyondHealines Special Correspondent
Chennai: After three days of hectic parleying, the Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK) yesterday finally relented, agreeing to award three more seats to the Congress party. With Congress spokesperson and heavyweight Ghulam Nabi Azad breaking the “good news” to the media in Delhi, M Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK president, retorted in Chennai: “It is a good day for us. Finally, we have reached an agreement with the Congress party.”
DMK sources said that Karunanidhi was far from happy about the new formula but realizing it was a critical stage for the alliance. And, when Karunanidhi made the announcement about allotting 63 seats for the Congress, party cadres failed to cheer.
“I am happy that the deal has been struck between the DMK and the Congress. Like 63 nayanmars (Shaivite devotional poets of Tamil Nadu), you have been given the 63 seats. You should accept it with the same amount of bhakti (devotion) like nayanmars,” Karunanidhi said in his usual cryptic fashion.
The DMK’s union ministers have been directed to return without submitting their resignations. All through Tuesday as leaders from both sides worked hard to break the deadlock and get the alliance on its feet, it was Karunanidhi’s older son MK Alagiri and grandnephew Dayanidhi Maran who steered the talks on behalf of the DMK in Delhi. But the deal was finally struck at the proverbial eleventh hour after PMK leader Ambumani Ramadoss showed the way out of the impasse by sacrificing a seat and convincing the Congress party and DMK leaders that without the others support, they were bound to lose the elections.
While the DMK will part with one more seat, an additional seat will be taken from the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) quota.
In Delhi, when scribes asked him what helped break the deadlock, a smiling Alagiri quipped, “A winning formula.”
After the night meeting held on the night of March 7 with All India Congress Committee (AICC) President Sonia Gandhi, Alagiri had contacted his father to convey Sonia’s perception of issues and urged for a compromise to save the alliance at a crucial time in the run-up to the April 13 assembly polls. Karunanidhi then is understood to have expressed his reservations and misgivings in no uncertain terms.
On the morning of March 8, the chief minister put the issue to his inner circle, which found them sharply divided on the final stand that their party should take vis-a-vis the Congress. Both Alagiri and Maran advocated alliance with the Congress party while Deputy Chief Minister M K Stalin and his followers argued for the DMK to quit the alliance and strike out on its own.
Finally, pressure from the whole family minus Stalin determined the outcome, the sources added.